After a couple of flights and about thirteen hours in the air we arrived in Nairobi to some heavy rain but very warm. We're here to spend time at Happy Life Children's Home - one of our main projects that MX Publishing support. Every time you buy books on this site, it contributes to projects for abandoned children in Kenya. This year its #bookstobooks - with over 800 funded this year so far.
Days 1-3 - Many Things Have Changed
We had visited Happy Life every Christmas for seven years but missed last year as Kenya was blocked for travel due to COVID19. So it's been two years and we expected quite a lot of change.
The team at Happy Life had asked for some specific items - we always bring clothes, shoes etc for the kids but this year's big ask was toothpaste and toothbrushes as well as supplies for the school. As usual, we packed up two additional 80L bags with everything and added them as extra luggage.
So day 1 here in Nairobi and we got an Uber across from the hotel to Happy Life. In previous years we've stayed at the rescue centre - but as we both have days where we will be working remote from here, we're staying at a local hotel.
The first thing we noticed is a new nice separation wall between the children's rescue centre and the hospital - making it much easier for people to visit the hospital from both sides of the building. The solid gate had been replaced with a see through one which the team tell us has been brilliant for the kids as they can look through the railings and see the passing people and traffic.
This also means a place to store the ambulance. After having done its time in the UK, the Happy Life team managed to agree to take it provided they could get it to Kenya. It's been invaluable for saving lives and delivering vaccines. A big thanks to one of our donors who donated a significant sum towards the ambulance project.
The next big change was in the babies room. All the old wood cots have been replaced with wonderful more modern metal ones - the change in the space and light is incredible as they are now painted a bright white.
Moses and Blessing are two of the more active infants
We arrived in good time for the late morning feed. There are around 20 small infants and about 30 larger infants and toddlers.
Steve feeding Kirk
This is where we found probably the biggest change which is the age at which the babies come to the rescue centre. In the past, the babies would need to be 3-6 months old but now that the hospital is next door, the babies are much younger.
The baby here, Kirk is 2 months but the baby Sharon was feeding was just one month. When we spoke to the staff we asked what was the youngest recently they said 'one day'.
We then spent quite some time with the toddlers - keeping them occupied so the staff can get on with other things. Interacting with volunteers is a really important part of the development for the kids - and due to the pandemic, many hadn't had any foreign volunteers so we were a real novelty for them.
The chaos of trying to keep twenty toddlers occupied is something that hasn't changed a bit since we came here a decade ago!
Coming us this week two Christmas parties for the kids - one for the little ones a the rescue centre, the other for the older kids out at Juja Farm in the countryside where we'll get to see the impact of our #bookstotrees project in 2020.
MX Publishing is a social enterprise, with a share of the proceeds from every book purchased on this site going to projects like Happy Life and Undershaw.